One glimpse of Skagway and it’s easy to see why this quaint Alaskan town is a popular port for cruise ships sailing along Alaska’s Inside Passage. Skagway offers beautiful scenic views and abundant history. Included in Jack London’s Call of the Wild, Skagway is also known as the Gateway to the Klondike and was a popular stop for those heading to the gold fields in search of riches.
Home to less than 1,000 permanent residents, Skagway’s population doubles during the tourist season as this tiny town welcomes nearly one million annual visitors.
While you’ll find plenty to do from dogsled rides, to a panning for gold, to a ride on the White Pass & Yukon Route Railroad, here are five free family friendly attractions in Skagway for your family to enjoy.
1. Skagway Visitor’s Center
Your first stop and photo op in Skagway should be to the Skagway Visitor’s Center, located in the Arctic Brotherhood Hall. You can’t miss the building. Completed in the late 1800’s, this historic building is adorned with 8,800 pieces of driftwood.
2. The Klondike Gold Rush National Historic Park
Housed in the historic Railroad Building, thousands of visitors stop at this National Park Site each year to learn about the Alaskan Gold Rush. Also serving as a Visitor’s Center, the Klondike Gold Rush National Historic Park, offers a short 30 minute movie that gives an overview of the area and gold rush and has some exhibits to view. The Klondike Gold Rush National Historic Park encompasses an area of seven historic blocks in downtown Skagway which include the Mascot Saloon Exhibit and the Moore House. You can continue to learn about the gold rush days on one of several free, 50-minute walking tours that the National Park Service offers several times each day.
3. The Gold Camp Cemetery
This stop is in easy walking distance of downtown (4 mile round trip hike from town), boasts the “Largest Nugget in the World” and is the final resting place to many of the early prospectors, not all of whom were honest men. The possibility of striking it rich lured many gamblers, thieves, cutthroats and murderers and you’ll find many of their graves in the Gold Camp Cemetery. If you continue through the cemetery for 1/4 of a mile you can also see Reid Falls.
4. Yakutania Point and Smugglers Cove
Yakutania Point and Smugglers Cove are both a short easy hikes from downtown and offer views you won’t want to miss. Plan to relax and enjoy the incredible view.
5. The Broadway Dock is the place to be during high tide during salmon spawning season and promises to be one of your favorite memories of Skagway. As the tide comes in, so do the hungry harbor seals seeking a dinner of salmon. If you prefer not to watch the seal hunting and feeding on salmon, you may opt to visit Pullen Park where you can view the salmon swim upstream without fear of being eaten. By seals that is…
While not free, the Skagway Museum or the Trail of ’98 Museum contains artifacts and memorabilia from the early days of Skagway, a collection of Alaska Native heritage baskets, beadwork and carvings, and a Gold Rush artifacts and tools. The cost is only $2 for adults and $1 for kids.
If you’re planning a trip to Alaska, you may also enjoy 10 Free Things to do in Anchorage and 10 Free Things to do in Juneau, Alaska.